Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

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vmars322
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Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

Post by vmars322 » August 4th, 2018, 1:04 pm

The Chicago Blackhawks faithful were out in full force for the 2018 Chicago Blackhawks Convention!

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A little background on the Convention…the Blackhawks are the only team in the NHL to put on an event like this. The Convention is divided into six parts: general autographs, general photo ops, VIP autographs/photographs, (Since it would be chaos to have Jonathan Toews or other top line players signing in the general autograph area…VIP autographs/photographs are limited to special tickets that are obtained either by staying in the hotel for two nights or Scratch & Win ticket winners) Q&A panels, a vendor room, and an interactive play area. During the day four general autograph sessions are going on at once (they rotate players about every two hours) and two photo sessions (same thing…rotating basis).

General autographs and photo ops use a wristband system. 315 wristbands are handed out per autograph session and 150 wristbands per photo op session. Wristbands are usually given out about an hour or two before the session so you have to plan your schedule according to when you have to be in a certain line.

In the past you were only allowed to wear one wristband at a time, but this year they upped it to two! VIP autograph/photographs tickets were also a little different this year. Upon receiving your Convention pass in the mail you were instructed to go online and register the pass…this gave you access to a VIP ticket raffle. On Thursday afternoon (the Convention started on Friday afternoon) you were emailed if you won a ticket. In the past you never knew which player your VIP ticket was for, but this year all the players were listed in the program so the mystery was removed (We each won an email VIP ticket…my dad and I got autograph tickets and Brandy got a photo ticket). Once you arrived at the Convention you also had another chance to win a VIP ticket via scanning your pass at a Prize Tower. Overall there were 17 VIP autograph sessions and 8 VIP photo sessions. And in yet another new move most sessions included two players signing.

My dad, Brandy, and I arrived at the Hilton around 12:30pm on Friday. After we checked into the hotel we went to Registration. Since were staying at the hotel for the entire weekend we were entitled to two hotel stay VIP tickets. We ended up with two tickets for Chris Chelios on Friday night, but were able to trade one of them for Corey Crawford on Saturday morning (This happens every year…they always try to give us the same ticket for each room, but usually we are able to exchange at least one of them…this year was no different and it all worked out).

The next step was to scan our passes at the Prize Tower. Each of us won a VIP autograph session!! Unfortunately they were all for the same person, Chelios (who we were already getting with our hotel stay ticket). We were under the assumption the VIP tickets were being handed out randomly, but in hindsight we realized we should have scanned our passes at different times to increase our odds of getting different players. A quick peek on Twitter showed us that everyone had the same problem…multiple families scanned their passes and all got the same player. Luckily this also opened up a black market for people willing to trade tickets. We were able to exchange two of our Chelios tickets for a Coach Q autograph and Patrick Sharp/Alex DeBrincat autographs. Thanks to the fans that helped us out!

Around 3:00pm they let us into the main autograph room. My dad got in line to save a spot for me in the Brandon Manning/Jan Rutta line while Brandy and I did some shopping and grabbed lunch (The Blackhawks store has two ‘Last Call’ sales where merch was marked down to ridiculously low prices). A little before 5:00pm they handed out the wristbands for the evening so I relieved my dad and took my place in line. He hopped into the Ben Eager/Colin Fraser line (both members of the 2010 Stanley Cup team). Brandy had both of her VIP sessions that night so she didn’t need to get any wristbands. Once our wristbands were secure we looked around the Vendor Room (which was much smaller this year) for a little while before getting back in line for our 7:30pm sessions.

While Brandy got her VIP photo with Blackhawk announcers Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk I got in the Manning/Rutta line with two of my co-workers. It was nice to have people to talk to to help pass the time in line. Manning and Rutta started the session right on time. They were very friendly and both shook my hand and signed pucks for me.

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Since I had finished that line so quickly I was able to snag a wristband for a photo op with David Kampf and Dominik Kahun…both very nice guys.

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Once I was done I joined Brandy in the line for her Coach Q VIP autograph. For most VIP sessions only the person with the ‘winning ticket’ is allowed to wait in line, but the Q line was pretty lax so I ended up being able to wait with her. When you reach the front of the line they usually scan your pass again to make sure you didn’t sneak in line, but they didn’t do that…so I was also able to get a Q autograph as well as a quick photo. As usual the coach was very kind…and more chatty than normal which was nice.

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Here are the Fraser and Eager autographs my dad got…

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Day one…done!

Day two usually starts early…as people want to get a good spot in line for autographs (once I was in line at 4:00am for a photo with Niklas Hjalmarsson), but since the Saturday morning schedule was a little light we got downstairs around 8:00am. I picked up a wristband for a photo with our newly acquired goalie Cam Ward while Brandy opted for a photo with National Anthem singer extraordinaire Jim Cornelison. During the wait in this line I met a nice fan who was at the Convention for the first time so I was able to help her plan her day a little bit. Cam was very kind. We shook hands and I welcomed him to Chicago before we snapped a photo.

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Brandy and I met back up and she waited in line with me for goalie Corey Crawford (our VIP hotel stay ticket) for as long as she was allowed. This line was the longest I was in the whole weekend (about 45 minutes total). A lot of people were saying Crow did not seem to be in the best shape (he was unofficially diagnosed with Vertigo during the season and didn’t play much), but he seemed okay to me…maybe not ready to start the season, but not as bad as people were saying. We shook hands and he signed my puck.

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Now it was time to cash in our remaining Chris Chelios tickets. He was very nice and signed a puck for me.

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My dad joined us in that line after he had gotten autographs from Denis Savard, Eric Daze, and Steve Larmer that morning (they were all doing a signing together). Additionally he was able to snag a Bryan Bickell autograph. The line for Bickell was really long, but he randomly saw one of the workers handing out wristbands in the hallway and was able to snag one. He said Bickell was extremely personable and took time with each fan.

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Denis Savard, Eric Daze, & Steve Larmer

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Bryan Bickell

After we were done with Chelios I joined the line for my Patrick Sharp VIP autograph. Last year was the first time I met Sharpie and I was excited to meet him again. This year I had him sign a photo of himself with the Stanley Cup. When I got to the front of the line he said, “Hi, is it cool if I sign on the Cup?” I said that was fine with me and then I told him I’d missing hearing him on a local Chicago morning radio show, Eric in the Morning, now that he was retired and he said, “I’ll probably still pop on once in a while.”

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Then I hopped in line for my other VIP ticket 2010 Stanley Cup champs Adam Burish and Brian Campbell. When I got to the front of the line I told them I started following hockey in 2010 and I was really excited to meet them. Burish said I picked a good year to get interested in hockey. They were both very nice and signed a puck for me.

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Brandy and I reunited (she had been in the Tommy Hawk photo op line). We decided to check out the other ‘Last Call’ sale upstairs and ended up getting photos with Eric Daze, whose photo op stage was right next to the sale. He was very friendly…and wow is he tall.

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To end the day we headed to the photo stage in the Vendor Room to get photos with the newly acquired Chris Kunitz (I held our spot while Brandy got a Jim Cornelison autograph). When I first became interested in hockey I followed the Penguins pretty closely (one of my best friends is a Pens fan) so I was excited to meet him. After the picture was snapped I told him I started playing fantasy hockey in 2011 and he was on my team. He paused for a second before saying, “Yeah, 2011 was a good year for me.”

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We met back up with my dad who had managed to get Brandon Manning’s autograph, Cam Ward’s autograph, a photo op with Victor Ejdsell and Luke Johnson, and his VIP autographs with Connor Murphy and Marcus Kruger. Getting Kruger was huge for my dad as years ago he got a really crummy Kruger autograph (bad marker)…this year he was redeemed! One my of my co-workers was nice enough to get Nick Schmaltz and John Hayden’s autographs for me.

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Cam Ward

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Connor Murphy & Marcus Kruger

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John Hayden & Nick Schmaltz

Day two…complete!

Sunday morning came and I was interested in getting a photo op with Marcus Kruger and Gustav Forsling (wristbands being handed out at 9:00am), but when I saw on Twitter that people had been lined up since 4:30am I said nevermind! My dad hopped into the Carl Dahlstrom and Luke Johnson line.

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Carl Dahlstrom & Luke Johnson

Brandy and I decided to get photos with Henri Jokiharju.

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After that we decided to do some last minute shopping (everything on Sunday was buy one get one free!). It was about 9:15am when we walked into the ballroom and I noticed Kruger and Forsling wristbands were still available so we both snagged one…without having to sacrifice sleep for a photo!

Once we finished our shopping we got in line for the op. It was nice to meet both of them and you could tell Kruger was very happy to be back in Chicago!

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We met back up with my dad who had gotten Artem Anisimov’s autograph.

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I passed off the Alex DeBrincat pass to one of my co-workers…she was more than happy to take it off my hands!

Another year down! Although the crowd seemed to be a little thinner than in the past I noticed a lot of people I spoke to were attending for the first time. Despite the glitches with the Prize Towers (which hopefully will get corrected in the future) everything ran very smoothly. The employees who were passing out the wristbands were super nice and helpful and security kept all the lines organized and moving. As usual I cannot say enough great things about the Blackhawks Organization! Is it October yet?

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ICW
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Re: Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

Post by ICW » August 8th, 2018, 6:39 pm

This sounds like a FANTASTIC event! Great report and thanks for sharing!
Feel free to visit my blog concerning wrestling conventions, signings, and meet & greets!
https://squaredcirclecons.com/

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Greg2600
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Re: Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

Post by Greg2600 » August 8th, 2018, 8:33 pm

Thanks for checking in once again! Amazed nobody else puts these on.
The Paunch Stevenson Show pop culture podcast : http://www.paunchstevenson.com

vmars322
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Re: Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

Post by vmars322 » August 12th, 2018, 12:33 pm

Thank you!! :)

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WOODMO
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Re: Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

Post by WOODMO » August 12th, 2018, 6:27 pm

These are really great


lanza218
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Re: Chicago Blackhawks Convention 2018

Post by lanza218 » August 12th, 2018, 6:44 pm

Wish NyY did more like this. Excellent


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